That’s the 53 thousand dollar question we often get asked when people find out that we have 8 kids (By the way, we have 8 kids, in case you didn’t know.. :-))
That mildly expensive question is usually followed with questions like, “How do you get time for yourselves?” or “How do you keep from going crazy?” or “How are you not broke?”
Truth is- we really don’t have a secret formula, and we are not gifted with parenting awesomeness (yes, a real thing, I think). We have screwed up so many times on this journey. A lot of what I write about has come from painful lessons learned. We have to read Henry Cloud and John Townsend‘s Boundaries With Kids every single year, over and over again, just like the next parent! Heck, this blog has the word “confession” in it because we are trying to figure things out like you are!
However, we have learned some things and we have figured a lot of stuff out when it comes to successful parenting. I wouldn’t call us experts, by any stretch of the imagination, but there are lessons we can safely pass on to first-time parents because we’ve been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it!
So to answer the common question of “how do you do it?” I’ve listed 6 key things, or words, that have helped us succeed as both parents and marriage partners. Here they are:
Key Word #1- Intentionality.
We decided a long time ago that we would be intentional about parenting and intentional about our marriage. We had this hunch that things would not fall into place by chance. We realized that we had to do things on purpose. If we want a healthy connection to one another in our marriage then we have to intentionally plan date nights and get-a-way weekends, and stay in constant communication. Not an easy thing- it takes work- all the time. If we want to have children who are respectful and compassionate then we have to intentionally instill those values in them. Again, not easy. It takes hard work. Over and over.
Key Word #2- Routine.
My wife is a master at managing chaos. She is also a master at creating and sticking to routines. We have found that our children do quite well when they know what to expect. And they know what to expect from sticking to a routine. This sounds boring in a lot of regards but it helps to keep their little minds calm. Children do not fair well in ever-changing environments. Routines are a good thing.
Key Word #3- Consistency.
The formula is simple: consistency applied over time = positive results. It’s not always easy but if you stay consistent to your parenting and marriage plan you will see positive results. We have seen tremendous success with this on both fronts. Specifically with our children, we have been able to navigate some tough seasons simply by sticking to our plan.
Key Word #4- Faith.
For us, as Christ-followers, it’s not just about believing in Jesus but actually believing Him and having faith that He is holding on to us and guiding us as we live life with one another and lead our children. I realize that not all of my readers are believers in Christ and that’s okay. It’s about having faith in a higher power and a better life. Faith keeps you grounded. Faith keeps you focused. Faith leads you through tough times and renews your strength. However you find that is up to you. But it is a huge component to success.
Key Word #5- Commitment.
That’s right, good old-fashioned commitment. Bottom line- we are committed to one another through thick and thin (and trust me, there have been lots of both in 15 years!). We are also committed to raising our children to be healthy, productive adults. This is far, far, far from easy (did I mention it was was far? :-)). There are way more tough times than easy times but it’s worth it. And we aren’t going to quit! Commitment goes a long way to parenting and marriage success.
Key Word #6- Financial Freedom (okay that’s 2 words!)
We’re debt free, except for our house. This means we have no unsecured debt like car loans, home equity lines of credit, credit card debt, etc. When you are in debt you are truly a slave to the lender and your money belongs to other people. We dropped those chains in 2009. Since kicking debt to the curb, we’ve been able to save money and provide for our children in ways we never could have when we were in debt. The other cool thing is that we have money to spend on the things we like (like going to Florida every year for spring break ;-)) I highly recommend giving Dave Ramsey’s plan a shot if you are looking to make the same change in your life…get it? “make some change!” Because we’re talking about money…I’m hilarious!).
It’s not always perfect…okay…it’s never perfect. There are days if you peeked into our house you would ask yourself…”is that even legal?” Okay, not really, but it really is messy at times. Actually, it’s beautifully messy. I like that- beautifully messy! I’m going to write that down for the future. I need more sleep!
Question: Do you have a lot of children and one crazy life like ours? What are some key words that you stick to that have helped you in your parenting and marriage journey? Comment now!